The demand for virtual assistants is increasing as companies value the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of their services. Today, even PAs, (private assistants) traditionally the heart and soul of any office, are working from home as virtual private assistants. This has lead to many opportunities for those who would like to be PAs, but don’t fancy the long office hours or exhausting commute. With the internet, email and Skype technology at their disposal, there is little that is done in the office that can’t be done remotely. If you have the spirit of an entrepreneur and the practicality of a work-from-home employee, then you might want to consider becoming a Virtual Assistant.
What does a virtual assistant do?
Simply put, a virtual assistant provides support services from a remote location. Services offered range from simple administrative tasks to complicated social media marketing campaigns. Solopreneurs, small business owners, busy professionals and bloggers could all use virtual private assistants. When there just isn’t enough time to do everything, it makes a lot of sense for them to outsource certain tasks to a VA. Moreover, it also translates to significant cost savings on items like health insurance, employee health benefits programs, and even office supplies.
How you know you can be a good VA?
One of the things that makes the VA profession so popular is that there are so many diverse backgrounds that can translate well into virtual assisting. Of course, if you have clerical or admin experience, then you probably know a few tricks of trade that can help you provide standout support. But stay-at-home parents, teachers, paralegals, human resource pros, nurses and accountants all have the traits needed to succeed as virtual assistants too.
Apart from work history, there are some general traits that make for a great virtual assistant. These include:
- Are personable
- Organizational skills
How can you become a virtual assistant if you have no prior experience?
So, you already know what it takes to succeed as a VA, but do not know how to become a virtual assistant? That’s perfectly normal. Everyone wants something to help them get started without hitches. Here is what you need to do to gain a footing and ultimately grow into a successful enterprise. The worst thing you could do is to start without having a plan. Many people grasp at straws hoping something will come out of it, but this isn’t as effective as getting into this field with a well-planned strategy!
1. start small
The first 5 or so clients are the hardest to get. Make this easy by letting all of your friends and family know about your work and what you are planning to do. Advertising isn’t nearly as effective for VA’s as it should, focus on networking and word of mouth referrals instead. You could also bid for projects on popular freelancer platforms, but you have to build up a portfolio of positive reviews before you can start landing those high paying virtual assistant jobs.
2. Checkout the job boards
You can land a virtual assistant job by checking out popular job boards such as CareerBuilder, Indeed and Monster. Don’t forget to visit sites like Flexjobs as they specialize in flexible telecommuting job opportunities.
3. Establish trust
Getting the first clients is only half the battle. To ensure continuous success in this competitive niche, you must know how to market your skills and master the networking skills needed to drum up your business. There a few intangible factors that can help set you apart from other VAs. For instance, if your skill set includes any of the following, it will be easy to create a niche within the VA industry that is suited for you:
- Multi-lingual – such as English, German, Spanish and mandarin Chinese
- Fluency in written and spoken English
- Availability for phone conferencing during office hours
- Instant availability on new platforms such as Skype
- Proficiency in using cloud based services such as Salesforce
- Ability to research and compile reports
4. Leverage your skill sets but keep learning new things
Once you establish your strong points, you can create a personal website where you list all your skills and services. Ensure that you include past work in your portfolio.
Whenever you land a gig, try figuring out your client’s motivation for seeking out a VA. Once you establish this, it will become easy to create your own niche within this industry. Having a niche will also allow you to get clients you can charge a premium. Achieving this status is the biggest indication that you have truly set yourself apart from your competitors.